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Course Outline 2018

If there are any amendments to this document during Session 1 2018,

they will be listed here, at the top.

GenS 4015
Brave New World
SESSION 1, 2018

Course Staff
Dr Maria Cunningham
Consultation times: Please email with a list of times you are available on the day or week
you would like to see me, and I will work out a time.
(02) 9385 5662
Room 139 Old Main Building

Brodie Gibson
(Student Advisor, School of Physics)
(02) 9385 5969

School of Physics - Course Information

Assumed Knowledge
Nil prior knowledge assumed, but an enthusiasm to understand everyday science and
technology and the wish to communicate your understanding to others will be a big
advantage in undertaking this course.

Weeks: 2 -13
Location: Wholly online, work through as you wish

Weeks: 2- 9
Location: Wholly online

Note: The weeks referred to here are UNSW Weeks of Session, with Week 1
commencing Monday 26th February 2018.


1. Online Discussions/tutorials (25% of total course mark).

• During week 2 (beginning Monday 5th March) through to week 9 (beginning Monday 30th April)
you will need to contribute weekly to on-line discussions (tutorials).
• There are 8 online tutorials in total, and your contribution must be received by 1700 hrs (5
pm) on the Monday AFTER the tutorial opened (unless otherwise stated).
• You must submit the two postings that you want marked to your tutor by the SAME deadline,
via a Moodle message.
• All 8 tutorial discussions will be of equal weight.

2. Online Quizzes (25% of total course mark).

• There will be three online quizzes, and each will be of equal weighting.
• The quizzes will generally open on 0900 of the Monday of the week they are due, will be open
for one week, closing at 2359 hrs on the following Sunday (i.e. just before midnight).
• The quizzes are due:
o Quiz 1, Due Week 4:
o Quiz 2, Due Week 7:
o Quiz 3, Due Week 11:

3. Blog Posting – 300 to 400-word posting on topic chosen from the set of available
topics (10% of total course mark).
• Students will have the chance to suggest topics on which they would like to blog.
• To get full marks, students must make a comment on another students blog posting.
• Assignment opens Week 4.
• Blog posting due Friday Week 6, 2359 hrs.
• Comment on another students blog posting due Friday Week 7, 2359 hrs.

4. Letter to the Editor – 200 to 300 words critiquing an article about science or
technology that has appeared in the media (15% of total course mark).
• To get full marks, students must make a comment on another students Letter to the
Editor posting.
• Assignment opens Week 8.
• Assignment due Week 9, Friday 2359 hrs.
• Comment on another students posting due Week 10, Friday 2359 hrs.

5. Major Research assignment (25% of total course mark).

• Write 800 to 1000 words on a major review article on any piece of science or
technology that interests you.
• You can also talk about the implications for society if you wish.
• Another possibility is to submit a short story, a play, or an artwork.
• Due end Week 13: Sunday 3rd June 2359 hrs.

Syllabus/Handbook Entry

This wholly Internet-delivered course aims to give a big picture overview of the
physical sciences at the dawn of the 21st century and beyond. The most common
interface between the general public and science is often through science fiction; hence,
science fiction is used as a teaching aid to stimulate student interest and as a starting
point from which to communicate the science, and its likely future development. This
course also examines the interaction between science and society, encouraging students
to consider how culture influences science and vice versa. This course aims to provide
students with the level of scientific and technological literacy required to take an
informed part in debate on important scientific issues.

No prior scientific or mathematical knowledge is assumed. In fact, we aim to provide
you with this basic knowledge in this course.

The areas covered are: the physics of space and time; astronomy; space travel and
exploration; astrobiology: life in the Universe; computers & robotics, artificial
intelligence & human intelligence; the future of the human race; the future of planet
Earth, including an examination of the physics of climate change; a brief look at the
place of physics in popular culture is included.

Detailed Syllabus

Week Lectures Topics Module

Week 1 No lectures – read through course

Week 2 * Introduction to Brave New World M1: Understanding the Universe: Astronomy
* Introduction to Module 1 and the physics of space and time.
Week 3 *M1: Lecture 1 M1: Understanding the Universe: Astronomy
*M1: Movie - The Dish and the physics of space and time.
Week 4 *M1: Lecture 2 M1: Understanding the Universe: Astronomy
*Movie: 2001 A Space Odyssey and the physics of space and time.
*M1: Lecture 3
Week 5 *M2: Lecture 1 M2: Exploring the Universe: Space travel,
*M2: Lecture 2 space exploration and astrobiology.

30th March – 8th April Session Break

Week 6 *M2: Lecture 3 M2: Exploring the Universe: Space travel,

*M2: movie - Contact space exploration and astrobiology.
Week 7 *M2: Lecture 3 M2: Exploring the Universe: Space travel,
space exploration and astrobiology.
Week 8 *M3 Lecture 1 M3: The Human Web: Computers,
*M3 Lecture 2 communication and the basic connectedness
*Movie: The Social Network of the human race.
Week 9 *M3 Lecture 3 M3: The Human Web: Computers,
communication and the basic connectedness
of the human race.
Week 10 *M4 Lecture 1 M4: The future of planet Earth: the
*Movie: Avatar, Soylent green environment, food supply; the future of the
Human race.
Week 11 *M4 Lecture 2 M4: The future of planet Earth: the
*Movies: Dr Strangelove, The environment, food supply, the future of the
China Syndrome Human race.
Week 12 *TV Series: The Big Bang Theory M5: Physics is fun? A look at physics in
*M5 Lecture 1 popular culture
Week 13 *TV Series: MacGyver M5: Physics is fun? A look at physics in
*TV Series: Futurama popular culture
*M5 Lecture 2


Lecture Notes Supplied with Course

Assessment Procedures
Assignment Submissions

As GenS4015 is a wholly online course, you should follow the instructions on the
Moodle Website for submitting your assignments online with Moodle.

Marks will be deducted for late assignments, at a rate of 5% of the maximum possible mark
for the assignment per day. A weekend will count as two days. An assignment submitted after
the solutions have been posted will automatically receive 0%.

Special Consideration
On some occasions, sickness, misadventure, or other circumstances beyond your control
may prevent you from completing a course requirement or attending or submitting
assessable work for a course. You should then apply for Special Consideration.
• You must make formal application for Special Consideration for the course/s affected
as soon as practicable after the problem occurs and within three working days of
the assessment to which it refers.
• The application must be made via Online Services in myUNSW. Log into myUNSW
and go to My Student Profile tab > My Student Services channel > Online Services >
Special Consideration.
• Submit originals or certified copies of your supporting documentation to UNSW
Student Central for verification.

If you are applying for an extension to an assignment, you should also contact your lecturer
or Brodie Gibson directly to arrange a new submission date.

Further information about Special Consideration is available from


All requests for special consideration must be accompanied by verified supporting

documentation. You should note that submitting a request for consideration does not
automatically mean that you will be granted additional assessment, nor that you will be
awarded an amended result. You will be notified via email of the outcome of your

Equity and Diversity
Those students who have a disability or other health condition that requires some adjustment
in their teaching or learning environment are encouraged to discuss their study needs with a
Disability Advisor in Disability services (disabilities@unsw.edu.au) or 9385 4734 or

Issues to be discussed may include access to materials, signers or note-takers, the provision
of services and additional exam and assessment arrangements. Students should meet with
Disability Services before the start of semester in order to enable any necessary adjustments
to be made.

UNSW Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
Plagiarism is presenting another person's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is a serious
breach of ethics at UNSW and is not taken lightly. The School of Physics takes a zero
tolerance approach to plagiarism. Once found guilty, the minimum penalty is zero marks for
the assessment task that has been found to be plagiarism.

Examples include:
Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the
source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a
book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design,
drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource,
or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement.

Inappropriate paraphrasing
Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or
progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also
applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit
and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate

Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion
with other people. Collusion includes students providing their work to another student before
the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time, paying another person to
perform an academic task and passing it off as your own, stealing or acquiring another
person’s academic work and copying it, offering to complete another person’s work or seeking
payment for completing academic work. This should not be confused with academic

Inappropriate citation:
Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from
which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-plagiarism occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and
presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially.
Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of
research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using

parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without
proper citation.

Step-by-step guides for students about avoiding plagiarism and about student misconduct
matters are available on the UNSW Student Life and Learning web pages

https://student.unsw.edu.au/aim is a Moodle module about working with academic integrity,

and is available to all students.

Administration Matters

Students should check their UNSW email account regularly as all official university
communication will be sent to that address. Students should use their university email account
when writing to UNSW staff and should always include their name and student number.

Health and Safety

The School of Physics is actively committed to the health, safety and welfare of its staff and
students. Information on relevant UNSW Occupational Health and Safety policies and
expectations is available at: www.ohs.unsw.edu.au and

Recommended Internet Sites

The School of Physics website is www.physics.unsw.edu.au. Under the “Current Students”
link students will find information about degrees, courses, and assessment.

The University website my.unsw.edu.au provides links to the UNSW Handbook, Timetables,
Calendars and other student information.

Student Complaint Procedures

UNSW has procedures for dealing with complaints. These aim to solve grievances as
quickly and as close to the source as possible. Information is available here:
student.unsw.edu.au/complaints. Staff who can assist include:

School Contacts:
Brodie Gibson Associate Prof Yvonne Wong
Student Advisor Teaching Director
School of Physics School of Physics
Room G06, OMB Room 122, OMB
brodie.gibson@unsw.edu.au yvonne.y.wong@unsw.edu.au
Tel: 9385 5969 Tel: 9385 4411

Prof Sven Rogge

Head of School
School of Physics
Tel: 9385 4553

Faculty Contacts
Associate Prof Janelle Wheat Dr Gavin Edwards
Deputy Dean (Education) Associate Dean (Undergraduate Programs)
j.wheat@unsw.edu.au g.edwards@unsw.edu.au
Tel: 9385 0752 Tel: 9385 6125

University Contacts
Student Conduct and Integrity Unit
Tel: 9385 8515, email studentcomplaints@unsw.edu.au

Student Participation Advisors

The Hub
Lower Ground Floor, Morven Brown Building,
Tel 9385 9365, email advisors@unsw.edu.au

University Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Tel: 9385 5418, email counselling@unsw.edu.au

Additional Course Information

Expectations of Students
We believe that effective learning is best supported by a climate of enquiry, in which students are
actively engaged in the learning process. To ensure effective learning, students should participate
in class. Effective learning is achieved when students attend all classes, have prepared effectively
for classes by reading through previous lecture notes, in the case of lectures, and, in the case of
tutorials or laboratories, have made a serious attempt at doing the problems or pre-work
themselves prior to the class. Furthermore, lectures should be viewed by the student as an
opportunity to learn, rather than just copy down lecture notes. Effective learning is achieved when
students have a genuine interest in the subject and make a serious effort to master the basic
Course Evaluation and Development
Student feedback is gathered periodically by various means. Such feedback is considered
carefully with a view to acting on it constructively wherever possible.

Every semester students will be asked to provide evaluative feedback through UNSW's
MyExperience process at the end of the course.

Every class will have a student representative. These representatives meet regularly
throughout the semester with the School’s Teaching and Year Directors, to discuss student
questions or teaching issues. This feedback is used to improve courses and their teaching.

The Physics degrees offered by UNSW are reviewed and accredited by the Australian Institute
of Physics every five years. The most recent review was in 2013.

We welcome feedback at all times on any course-related matters. Feedback can be discussed
in the first instance with your lecturer, Brodie Gibson or Associate Prof Yvonne Wong.